You get what you pay for and pay for what you get!

You get what you pay for and pay for what you get!

By Kia Jarmon of MEPR Agency for 12th & Broad

Recently I was working on a marketing and communications audit campaign. During our process we reviewed all materials—flyer, website, swag, and overall design. It looked like the printer had spewed stuff of every color and font type all over the room. The colors in the logo were all different. The fonts were inconsistent. The brochure paper was every shade of the rainbow. After asking an uncomfortable amount of questions about brand standards and why this was different than that, we received a cringe-worthy answer. Most of the materials were gifted, aka free. My response very simply was, “there is a cost to ‘free’!”

I truly believe that nothing in life is free. Just when you think you have gotten a heck of a deal on that free item, here comes the catch.

It’s all a matter of psychology really. We enjoy the deal and get excited when we see buy one, get one. But at what cost do you participate in the ‘deal’? Where do you draw the line and review physical and opportunity cost?

To be most successful I had to determine my philosophies regarding money, discounts, bartering, and free pretty quickly so that I could happily stay in business. Allow me to share them with you.

I don’t traditionally barter, except in one occasion (see point #3): I believe that 99% of the time bartering can become a bad overall practice for business. (Didn’t say it couldn’t work but out of the dozen or so people I know, it hasn’t).  Here are my sentiments: most every person I have chatted with about bartering their services has expressed disbelief when the deal goes sour. Most people value your time and services just not as much as a product and it never fails that our value becomes unequal from what we are receiving in return. You don’t barter at the gas station so why barter for my writing or social media services? My suggestion: pay for what you need and you will get what you want!

Strategically plan promotions. Don’t just do them when you need a buck. For any type of business, promotions can be an ingenious way to build your audience base and strengthen your brand. And yes I understand that you can’t plan for every type of promotion. But you can have a strategy in place that speaks to how to set it up, tools to make it effective, and desired outcomes. Just remember, slashed prices don’t always attract your ideal client. Be thoughtful in attracting those who you want to build loyalty with.

I am not against pro-bono work at all. As a matter of fact I think there are two really great times to offer your services at no financial cost; when you first start in business and when you have been extremely successful in business. I believe that every client you work with should articulate the type of client you would like to do business with or that you currently do business with. But here are some parameters. Have an agreement for a set amount of hours and length of time like fifteen hours over the next six months. As someone who works with a ton of nonprofits I will say that being specific helps them to manage their own expectations. And additionally you may consider asking them in return to introduce you to their network where you can pick up another paying client or two.  I also think, especially if you are new in business, they should be able to write a recommendation or personally refer your business to others.

And here is my last thought!

Consider removing FREE from your vocabulary:  The day of social media has completely diluted what people want to pay for, particularly in PR and marketing.  I realized that it was partly because many people reference publicity as free advertising and social media as free publicity.  The word free creates a false sense of the work that goes into these tasks.  While the platform of social media is without charge on many accounts, the countless hours creating the page, drafting the editorial calendar, managing the content, engaging with people, adding, liking, commenting, monitoring, and measuring all take a great deal of time. Remember that your value usually far outweighs the cost that you charge. Be sure to use proper verbiage and educate clients of the process so they understand your value and why they pay the cost for it!

Cheers to creating more profitable business practices!